IRAN: Eight Christian converts sentenced to total of 45 years in prison

Yasin MousaviEight Iranian Christian converts have been sentenced to a total of nearly 45 years in prison with one, Yasin Mousavi (pictured), sentenced to 15 years. They are from the western city of Izeh in Khuzestan province and were among at least 46 Iranian Christians arrested in a wave of raids over Christmas 2023.

Little information is available about the Christians apart from Yasin, who received the longest sentence. He remains out on bail while lawyers representing the eight converts prepare to appeal.

Yasin was sentenced to ten years in prison for “membership of a group intent on disrupting national security” (involvement in a Christian group) and a further five years for “propaganda against the regime through the promotion of ‘Zionist’ Christianity”. The charge against Yasin reportedly describes him as one of the leaders of an evangelical Christian organisation in Khuzestan province.

Yasin was sentenced on 27 May by Judge Mehdi Fathinia of the third branch of the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court, who recently sentenced Christian convert Esmaeil Narimanpour to five years in prison.

Christmas arrests

Yasin was arrested in Izeh on Christmas Eve 2023 and held in solitary confinement for twenty days at the Ministry of Intelligence detention centre before being transferred to Shiban Prison in Ahvaz. He was temporarily released on 20 April on bail of 2 billion tomans (around €28,000).

No details of the others have been released beyond their names and the length of their prison sentences: Hamid Afzali was sentenced to ten years; Nasrullah Mousavi, Bijan Qolizadeh and Iman Salehi to five years each; two unnamed individuals to two years each; and Zahrab Shahbazi to nine months. Iman is reportedly still detained, while the others are currently out on bail.

Yasin was previously arrested in 2017 and spent three months in Shiban Prison, and he spent a further three months in prison in 2021. He was also arrested and held briefly during anti-government protests in Izeh in 2022.

(Article 18, Elam Ministries, Mohabat News)

Photo: Mohabat